If you have been following along with these articles and doing your own mind sweep , you may have some of the same questions that others have sent me. I decided to include a Q & A article in this series and will likely do so in some upcoming ones, too.
Question 1: “What if I wrote something down more than once, because I couldn’t remember if I’d already written it down? Is that OK?”
This is not unusual at all. Part of what you’ll notice in an upcoming article where you’ll get some worksheets with prompts on them is that I purposely include some prompts on more than one page, because you may be reminded to think about the idea in a different way depending on the category. It is very likely you will be writing items down a second or even a third time. Not only is it OK to do that but generally it is faster for you to go ahead and write it down again than to start digging around in some of your other notes to see if you had written it down already.
You’ll have opportunities as we proceed to do the sorting necessary to find duplicates and deal with them, as needed.
Mindset: This is a time for sweeping. The time for sorting is later.
Question 2: “I feel like I’m just rewriting things on notecards that I’ve already written down, either on a calendar, a to-do list, or a project management software. Am I doing this right?”
Yes. It’s not surprising that you would have some items that are already written down in other places. Better to have it noted more than one place than not at all. The latter (i.e., not having something noted at all) is the default mode for most people. Thankfully, you are not going to be one of those people anymore!
Mindset: Having something written more than one place is better than not having it written anywhere.
Question 3: “I think — actually I know(!) — I am a perfectionist. So now I am thinking that I want to do my mind sweep perfectly and it’s making me sort of freeze up.”
Let’s all acknowledge that being a perfectionist has not helped any of us (I know this from a lot of reading, therapy, and coaching). The great news is that you cannot do a bad job on the mind sweep.
So if you think, “Well, I really want to do a perfect mind sweep,” let me assure you that you’re not going to do a perfect mind sweep and neither is anyone else. You’re also never going to be finished with your mind sweep, which we will also be talking more about. You will get “complete” for one day and then the day after that you’ll be able to add some more items.
Your life keeps growing and changing, and new commitments are taken on, new requests come in, changes in your health or other people’s health appear, or your employees are new or they have new projects you’re supervising them to do. All that keeps changing, and you need to continually reassess what your commitments are, what promises you’ve made, and what you need to do to live up to those promises.
Mindset: There is no such thing as a perfect mind sweep. Our goal is a pretty good mind sweep here.
Question 4: “30 minutes is not enough to write everything down. I am maybe one-quarter done with the areas I can already think about. Am I being too detailed? For example, I’m writing down, ‘Do analysis x way and do analysis y way,’ rather than just ‘do analysis’.”
Thirty minutes is absolutely not enough. 30 minutes is just enough to get you started on the whole process. The way you’re doing it is fine because you’re being specific, “Do analysis this particular way, and do analysis another particular way.” You’re doing great. And, it would also be fine if the way someone else approached their mindsweep by writing down, “Do analysis.”
You will keep finding your way in this — as you proceed.
Mindset: I can’t do this wrong. The way I’m doing it is fine. Meggin said so.
Question 5: “I swept the whole time, and I have about 50 notecards. However, I’m only partway through my mind and I keep on finding new recesses of my mind that need to be swept.”
Yes. You have a complex, beautiful, wonderful mind and there’s a lot in there. A lot.
Mindset: I am thankful for my complex, beautiful, wonderful mind and all that is in there. I’ll keep exploring those recesses to see what I find.
Question 6(combined question): “I know there’s a whole lot more coming and I am having some ‘holy shit’ moments.” Or, “EEK! I used a whole tablet of post-it notes.” Or, “My desk is covered with notecards already. I already started organizing and stacking them, just a little.” Should I be panicking?
That’s okay. You’re just beginning to think about the categories. That’s fine.
Mindset: Remember the rainbow. Wherever you are on the arc, there are others along the arc with you. You’re not by yourself.
I know from answering various versions of these six questions in many different workshops that people begin to breathe a sigh of relief as they adopt these mindsets. Go back and review the mindsets as often as you need:
1. This is a time for sweeping. The time for sorting is later.
2. Having something written more than one place is better than not having it written anywhere.
3. There is no such thing as a perfect mind sweep. Our goal is a pretty good mind sweep here.
4. I can’t do this wrong. The way I’m doing it is fine. Meggin said so.
5. I am thankful for my complex, beautiful, wonderful mind and all that is in there. I’ll keep exploring those recesses to see what I find.
5. Remember the rainbow (see below). Wherever you are on the arc, there are others there, too.
Happy sweeping! And remember the rainbow, i.e., the symbol for the “arc” of how this process goes and how you’re feeling as you go through the process.